Paul Levy is the CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the organization. The problem is a $20 million shortfall in revenues, and 600 employees are in the cross-hairs for layoffs.
Mr. Levy convened a large meeting of employees and gave them a direct, clear picture of what was going on with the company. He told them he wanted help resolving the issue so that the “lower wage earners” wouldn't be the ones who suffered the most. He made it clear that resolution meant that everyone would be affected.
Not only did he earn a standing ovation, he had enough suggestions in a week (sometimes flying in at 100 per hour) to trim $15 million off the shortfall, which reduced the potential for layoffs from 600 to 150.
In one afternoon meeting, Mr. Levy:
- Used engagement and authentic conversation to solve a difficult business issue.
- Created for people in the medical center a powerful personal experience and connection to the business.
- Created a culture of accountability in the room that transcended the moment.
- Engaged everyone with one simple question: “How do we reduce costs without the burden falling to the lower wage earners?
- Demonstrated that leading with humility and ethics can get you good results.
Thanks to our friend Polly Gates for bringing this to our attention.
JAMIE & MAREN